The following headline appeared in The New York Times yesterday: 'In Utah, Two Faiths and One Prayer'. The two faiths were Islam and, of course, Mormonisticism, or, um, whatever it's called.
Apparently Utah has a Muslim population of between 20,000 (The Salt Lake Tribune) and 25,000 (NY Times), and this week, following the capture of Muslim marine Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun, Mormons and Muslims came together to pray for his release.
Utah imam Shuaib-ud Din addressed Allah personally, hoping a little flattery might do the trick. "Allah," he said, "for you nothing is difficult. With ultimate power you can secure his release." Praying alongside were many Mormon women, one of whom, Ms Irene Smith, said: "We wanted to honor them during their special time in their sacred, um, what do you call this building?" Really. She really did say that. You have to laugh.
But Mormons have also been come under attack this week not for their embracing of other religions but for their embracing of the dead, hence this rather amusing headline which appeared in last night's Jerusalem Post: "Overzealous Mormons continue to baptize Jews". Well, it amused us.
It seems that Mormons like to boost their membership numbers. Which is fine, and perfectly normal. All religions like to boost their numbers. Most of them hold jumble sales or offer wine on Sunday mornings. Only Mormons go so far as to baptise the dead. And the thing is, they've been doing it for years, and despite being warned off, they just won't stop.
The Genealogical Society of Utah is a branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and what it does is to collect lists of dead people's names from government and church documents worldwide, in order to preserve genealogical records for the good of society and the benefit of history.
Then it craftily adds the names to its own enormous database of Mormons. Sometimes (but surely not always?) there is a ceremony in which a living Mormon is baptised in the name of the deceased. This is called 'vicarious baptism' or, if you prefer, 'baptism by proxy'. Isn't that great? What chutzpah!
Apparently their justification for doing this can be found in a passage in Corinthians, a chapter in some old and rather confused novel, in which someone says, 'Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?' Makes no sense to us, but apparently to your Mormon that's proof.
As one practising Mormon on an Internet forum puts it:
'If a person dies before he/she receives the gospel are they "out of luck"? No. Mormons believe that people still have a chance to learn about and accept the gospel of Jesus Christ after this life. Once they accept the gospel they can be baptised, however having no body makes it kinda hard : )
That's why Mormons perform baptisms for the dead. We do those that have passed on before us a great service by performing this for them'
What's more, it really doesn't matter who these people were. Mormons don't really care whose memory they're desecrating. They'll take anyone. Anyone who's dead and whose name appears on a list is good. 18th-century Russian Orthodox and Armenian Christians? No problem. Catholic popes? The more the merrier. Jews who died in the Holocaust? Come on down! Mormons aren't anti-Semitic.
Unfortunately this rather gets up the noses of Jews, who for some reason find it rather offensive. So much so that Mormons were made to sign an agreement in 1995 promising to stop vicariously baptising dead people willy-nilly - particularly
Holocaust victims. However, they continue to do so. It seems they can't help themselves. They're like Wombles collecting rubbish - except in this case they're Mormons, not Wombles, and they're collecting Jews, not rubbish.
As well as deceased popes, they have even baptised the following famous non-Mormons into the Mormon faith: Anne Frank, Albert Einstein, Golda Meir, the Shah of Iran, the Ayatollah Khomeini and none other than the founder of Zionism, Theodore Herzl. We repeat, what chutzpah! What gigantic fucking balls! They're like the old man in Goodness Gracious Me who swears that anyone half decent was Indian. 'Anne Frank? She was Mormon. Socrates? Mormon. The prophet Mohammed? Mormon.' They're off their fucking faces.
And this time we didn't even have to mention their magical underpants.
But just for fun, here's a link: